Summer is knocking at the door and with it comes the hot weather and higher humidity. Summer is the busiest season for roadways and as the temperatures rise, fleet vehicles are prone to new hazards and additional maintenance requirements. Extreme heat can cause extra stress on vehicle components such as; the engine, wheels and brake systems.
A wide range of engine parts produce plenty of heat on their own already, and when the temperature rises, you risk having an engine breakdown. A routine check can help prevent these problems and prolong the service life of your cars and trucks.
A vehicle fleet must perform at the highest level in the most cost-effective way to be considered successful. To be able to get the most out of the vehicles in a fleet, a fleet manager must schedule maintenances strategically. Preparing a fleet for the summer is a necessary step to ensure its operational capabilities. According to experts “Heat, rather than cold, is the biggest stressor to the car and its electrical system”. Many of the essential parts of a truck such as belts, hoses, tires and wipers have a shorter lifespan when exposed to extremely hot temperatures and sunlight.
Here is a list of key components that require additional attention in the summer;
In the summer, tire pressure increases due to hot weather. Fleets must check tire pressure regularly to avoid dangerous mishaps. Under-inflated, over-inflated or worn out tires can be extremely dangerous on the road. Fleets should have a routine tire pressure check once a month. Heat also causes the rubber in tires to break down faster, so you should regularly check for tread depth and inflation before hitting the road. Poor tire maintenance is one of the leading causes of accidents on the roads.
During the summer season, engines may overheat and its one of the top reasons for vehicle breakdowns. Aside from keeping the driver cool and comfortable, the engine requires cool air to function properly. As temperatures increase, cooling systems have to compensate to make sure everything stays cool.
Vehicle cooling systems need to be flushed and refilled every 24 months. Flush them before the start of summer to make sure they can handle extreme temperatures on the roadways. Antifreeze levels need to be checked regularly, if the antifreeze-to-water ratio is off, the system may malfunction even in the summer.
Belts and hoses
Belts and hoses are the connectors that help all of your truck’s components work together in harmony. Exposure to extreme heat, vibration and other environmental elements causes the belts to deteriorate over time. Essential components like the serpentine belt which keeps car components together including air conditioning, alternator and power steering, needs to be replaced in case of tears or cracking. Experts recommend replacing the belts every 60000 to 100000 miles.
Oil and filter
Depending on where you live, extremely hot or cold weather can speed up the thermal breakdown of your motor oil, making it less effective. It is usually recommended to change your oil every 3000-5000 miles. But for vehicles operating under extreme conditions like high temperatures or carrying heavy cargo, it should be done sooner to prevent any malfunctions.
Also, make sure to check underneath the vehicle for possible leaks. In addition, the air filter may be clogged over the winter from the debris on the road. Changing it periodically (every 12000-15000 miles)makes sure the vehicle’s electrical systems are getting the fresh air they need on hot summer days and can help increase the gas/mileage ratio.
Heat is the enemy of all vehicle parts and battery is not an exception. Car batteries contain a range of different chemicals that can change significantly under the heat, causing overcharging, chemical evaporation and corrosion on conducting grids. A corrosion buildup can result in reduced voltage, which could prevent your truck’s engine from starting. A car battery usually lasts for 3 to 5 years. If your battery is older than 5 years, it is preferable to replace it in order to save yourself from being stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Oil and filter changes, fluid, tire pressure and other routine maintenance checks need to be done as usual during the summer. But managing a fleet is not as challenging as it used to be, technology has evolved in a good way, using fleet tracking devices and fleet management software, managers are able to schedule routine maintenance reminders to keep track of everything ahead of time. Summer maintenance is very important and should be done promptly to ensure your vehicle is in prime condition.
Further reading on fleet maintenance
Nominations are now open for the British Small Business Awards 2017, the leading event celebrating the brightest stars in the SME sector. Click here to enter, and make sure you get involved today using the hashtag #BSBAwards. Good luck!